Fishing Rating: Hot Good Fair Poor
Bear Canyon Lake – Rating:
Bear Canyon Lake will not be accessible until significant snow melt occurs and Forest Road 300 reopens for the season. Bear Canyon Lake is steep, as well as deep. There is little shallow water, except at the upper end of the lake. Fish using small spinners and lures. If fishing off the bottom, avoid casting out too far where the water is very deep. Bait anglers should try fishing with a worm and bobber. Fly anglers using a float tube can find solitude at Bear Canyon Lake, especially on weekdays. However, fly-fishing from shore or wading is difficult because the tree line comes right to the water’s edge, and the water gets deep close to shore. The lake is usually stocked once a month from April to September with rainbow trout. Stocking should begin in late April unless roads remain closed and snow conditions do not allow for stocking. Check U.S. Forest Service for road closure updates.
Black Canyon Lake – Rating:
Black Canyon Lake will be the first of the Rim lakes open and accessible to angling. Roads are open and it will be stocked in early April. Good winter storms have filled this lake back up after being very low in 2018. Current lake levels are 3 feet below spilling and will likely fill the rest of the way as spring run-off progresses. Fish using small gold lures or dry flies as weather warms and surface activity increases.
Black Canyon Lake is 78 surface acres, with a maximum depth of 60 feet and an average depth of 35 feet. Like other Rim lakes, Black Canyon is deep, and low in nutrients. Catchable sized rainbow trout are stocked in the spring and early summer. The lake also currently contains illegally introduced green sunfish and largemouth bass; anglers are encouraged to catch and remove these species to help control their populations. There is no limit for bass and sunfish here.
Chevelon Canyon – Rating:
Winter storms have refilled Chevelon Canyon Lake making launching a small boat or float tube easy again. Low water levels in 2018 may have stressed fish; however, fishing should pick up as water warms and aquatic insect activity starts to pick up. Juvenile rainbow trout stocking events are becoming more difficult due to bad road conditions created by excessive and illegal vehicle and UTV use on Chevelon Canyon Dam Road. Only OHVs 50 inches wide or less (those that fit through the metal gate) are allowed on the road. No subcatchable rainbow trout were stocked in fall 2018 because of bad road conditions.
Because of the difficult access, this lake is popular with float-tubers. Its deep canyon and well-forested edges make this lake a cool respite during the summer. Some lures to try are Kastmasters, Panther Martin spinners and Rapalas for stocked rainbows and wild brown trout. Fly-fishermen should try wooly buggers or wooly worms in black or brown colors, crayfish-colored patterns, and brown or black Simi Seal leeches, peacock ladies or other large streamers. Chevelon Canyon is stocked with fingerling trout in the spring and managed as a put-and-grow fishery. Chevelon Canyon Lake is a hike-in or ATV accessible lake only, with a two trout limit and artificial fly/lure only regulations.
Clear Creek Reservoir – Rating:
Rainbow trout are stocked once in April and once in May as a put-and-take fishery; fishing is good after stocking but can diminish as water warms beyond trout tolerance. Fishing for sunfish, catfish and carp remains good throughout the summer. Try small hooks with a worm and bobber near rocks and structure for sunfish. For bullhead and channel catfish, use bait on bottom such as worms and chicken livers, especially at night when catfish are most active.
Willow Springs Lake – Rating:
Lake levels should be increasing thanks to good winter snow storms; however, access to Willow Springs Lake will still be impossible until spring snow melt occurs and Forest Road 300 reopens. Willow Springs is stocked with catchable rainbow trout weekly throughout the late spring and summer, and tiger trout are stocked in May. Stocking will begin in late April or early May when road and lake conditions allow. Try Kastmasters, small Rapalas or Panther Martins for either species. Shore anglers fishing for trout can try nightcrawlers or PowerBait. Green sunfish and smallmouth bass were illegally introduced to this lake. Try a small hook with a worm under a bobber, during the warmer parts of the day when warmwater fish are most active. Stocking should begin in late April unless roads remain closed and snow conditions do not allow for stocking. Check U.S. Forest Service for road closure updates.
Woods Canyon Lake – Rating:
Lake levels should be increasing thanks to good winter snow storms; however, access to Woods Canyon Lake will still be impossible until spring snow melt occurs and forest access roads open. Due to the steep and shaded nature of the road, access to Woods Canyon may not be open until after other rim lakes are opened. If fishing for trout from shore, try PowerBait or worms. Fly anglers may have luck on dry flies or small nymphs right at sunset. Boaters can try trolling a Super Duper or tiny gold Kastmaster lures. The lake is loaded with crayfish; try fishing for large trout with spinners or lures that imitate crayfish patterns. Fish for illegally stocked green sunfish along the rocky shore with nightcrawlers. Woods Canyon Lake is stocked weekly throughout the summer with rainbow trout and in May with tiger trout. Stocking should begin in late April or early May unless roads remain closed and snow conditions do not allow for stocking. Check U.S. Forest Service for road closure updates.
Becker Lake – Rating:
Becker Lake can only be fished with artificial flies and lures with a single-point barbless hook, catch-and-release trout only. Big rainbow and tiger trout lurk along the weed beds on the south end, but can be found in the middle of the lake by boat and float tube as well. Try spring dry flies or emerger fly patterns as the weather warms and hatches start, like Parachute Adams, Elk Hair Caddis and Hare’s Ear. There is limited opportunity for shore fishing and wading because of drop-offs and vegetation, but there is a floating fishing pier that is handicapped accessible. Spin fishermen can try Z-rays, small Kastmasters or Panther Martins with the treble replaced with a single barbless hook.
Rainbow trout and tiger trout will be stocked again this spring. Good snow melt has filled Becker Lake back up and it is currently only 20 inches below being full; more snowmelt and spring run-off should fill this lake almost completely. Watch for wind advisories in the spring as storms move through.
Big Lake – Rating:
As of early March, Big Lake was inaccessible due to snow, road closures and total ice cover. Access will likely not be possible until mid to late April. Check with ADOT for information about Highway 273 and 261 opening. Because of its size, productivity and visitor amenities, Big Lake is considered one of the White Mountain’s best fishing lakes. Fishing is excellent during spring after ice-off when water quality is best and trout are hungry after a cold winter. Try fishing weed edges or in shallower water where aquatic insects are emerging and fish or crayfish may be hunting. Bait and shore fishermen can try anything from worms to PowerBait, especially with strong scents to lure fish out of their winter slump. While all water is cool and fresh, shore fishing should be just as successful as fishing from a boat. Boaters should try trolling spinners and flies. To attract cutthroat, use lures that resemble crayfish or their movement. Brook trout will hit flies, but also try nightcrawlers on the bottom.
Greer Lakes (Bunch, Tunnel, River) – Rating:
Tunnel and Bunch Reservoirs both are about 10 feet deep on average. River Reservoir is the largest and deepest of the Greer Lakes, with an average depth of 20 feet. All the Greer Lakes are currently full and accessible, though March and April storms could still drop snow and freeze portions of these lakes. Stocking will begin in April, though holdover fish likely exist in all three lakes. Early in the season, cast spinners and small spoons such as Panther Martins, small Kastmasters and Z-rays. Fly-fishing with Prince Nymphs, Hare’s Ear nymphs and Peacock Ladies works well either by wading or in a float tube. You could also try fishing off the bottom with nightcrawlers or PowerBait. Trolling flies, such as brown or black wooly buggers, or spinners, is likely to work well.
Carnero Lake – Rating:
As of early March, Carnero was inaccessible due to snow drifts, poor road conditions, and ice cover. It will not be accessible until spring snow melt, likely in mid-April. Check with U.S. Forest Service for road conditions. Water quality measurements throughout the winter found low dissolved oxygen under the ice and Carnero may experience a partial winterkill this year. Fishing from the shoreline or using spinners or lures is difficult at this lake because of the weeds. The best way to fish is from a small boat, canoe or float tube. Fly fish for rainbow trout and tiger trout with wooly buggers, prince nymphs or light-colored nymphs in open areas. The water is deepest near the islands on the north end of the lake. Carnero Lake is currently still about 5 feet low from poor rain and snow in 2018, however spring snow melt should fill this lake up significantly.
See the pdf file for the remainder of the lakes in the White Mountains region:
Little Colorado River
Show Low Creek
Show Low Creek meadows
Show Low Lake
*Community fishing lakes